Gary Lineker: Government discuss BBC ‘impartiality’ for presenters
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Gary Lineker has come under fire for comparing the Government’s new migration policy to the tactics of Nazi Germany on social media. His comments have sparked a row over whether he followed the BBC’s impartiality guidelines. A new Express.co.uk poll has found 85 percent of readers think he should be sacked from his position.
The Match of the Day host shared his thoughts on Government’s Illegal Migration Bill on Twitter. In a retweet of a Twitter video from the Home Office featuring Home Secretary Suella Braverman, he wrote: “Good heavens, this is beyond awful.”
In a separate tweet, the former footballer said: “There is no huge influx. We take far fewer refugees than other major European countries. This is just an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s, and I’m out of order?”
In his refusal to remove the tweet, Mr Lineker said he will continue to speak up for the “voiceless”. He tweeted: “Great to see the freedom of speech champions out in force this morning demanding silence from those with whom they disagree.”
Earlier this week a spokesperson for the BBC said Mr Lineker will be “reminded of his responsibilities on social media”. Employees of the BBC are required to be impartial, with the BBC’s remit stating it is “committed to achieving due impartiality in all its output” and “this commitment is fundamental to our reputation, our values and the trust of audiences”.
Despite the public outcry, the BBC will not be taking disciplinary action against Mr Lineker. A source told The Sun on Thursday: “We have spoken to Gary and he won’t face any disciplinary action. From our perspective, the situation has been resolved now and we want him to get back to what he’s best at, which is being a brilliant sports presenter.”
In response to Mr Lineker’s comments, Express.co.uk ran a poll from 9am on Wednesday, March 8, to 2pm on Friday, March 10, asking readers: “Should BBC sack Gary Lineker for attack on migrant bill?”
A whopping 44,472 readers cast their votes, with 85 percent (37,810 people) answering “yes” Mr Lineker should be sacked by the BBC.
Whereas 15 percent (6,452 people) said “no” he should not be sacked, and a further 210 people said they did not know.
Thousands of comments were left below the accompanying article as readers debated Mr Lineker’s future at the BBC.
The predominant view shared by readers was in favour of Mr Lineker being sacked. Username ScotsLass said: “Lineker is well past his use by date.”
Username whom wrote: “I would be happy for BBC to remove the extremely well paid soap box they currently allow him to stand on and abuse.”
Another, username Gaz01cars said: “Would not miss him on Match of the Day, there is plenty out there to fill his boots.”
Likewise, username stnucue6 remarked: “Just sack him, there are loads of people who could sit on his chair and do the same job for half the wages, enough is enough now.”
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While username Paula_Boo commented: “Absolutely, Lineker should be sacked immediately. He should have been sacked a long time ago.”
Username Jack Hackett said: “Yes he should be shown the door. People will associate his comments with his employer due to his high-profile presenter job.”
Similarly, username stnucue6 said: “The BBC need to show they are not going to accept his nonsense.”
And username obobo66 added: “The BBC has absolutely no choice now with the huge outcry.”
Ms Braverman has criticised Mr Lineker’s tweet, telling the BBC’s Political Thinking podcast that such a comparison “diminishes the unspeakable tragedy” of the Holocaust, and that his views on the asylum policy were “a lazy and unhelpful comparison”.
Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer emphasised the importance of the BBC’s impartiality in order to “retain the trust of the public who pay the licence fee”.
She during culture questions in the House of Commons: “As somebody whose grandmother escaped Nazi Germany in the 1930s, I think it’s really disappointing and inappropriate to compare government policy on immigration to events in Germany in the 1930s.”
She added: “The BBC is operationally independent and I’m pleased that the BBC will be speaking to Gary Lineker, to remind him of his responsibilities in relation to social media.”
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he thought Mr Lineker was out of touch with the British public, insisting there is “quite a lot of strong support for the approach” from the Government.
He said he has confidence in the policy, adding: “I hope everyone over time realises that this is the right approach because we’ve looked at lots of different things, tried lots of other ways, as I’ve said, and nothing else has worked.”
However, readers also commented that Mr Lineker should keep his job at the public broadcaster, with some questioning freedom of speech and declaring the situation cancel culture. Username Joolsaria said: “Cancel culture by the bucket load! The man has a right to an opinion!”
Username hannaballecter wrote: “He is entitled to his opinion even if it is misguided.”
While username Ansi Lumens said: “He is just a sports presenter, if he presented the news or current events then fair enough. What about actors who are famous for starring in BBC productions, should they be silenced as they work for the BBC. How far does this attack on free speech go?”
Former Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron, told Express.co.uk that Mr Lineker should be allowed to voice his opinion. He said: “No one who really believes in free speech will be criticising Gary Lineker’s right to say what he has or calling for the BBC to discipline him.
“If he had said something supportive of the Government, I would think the same. Free speech is a vital British value. He is right to criticise politicians who use thoughtless, incendiary language – careless talk costs.”
Talk TV host Piers Morgan also defended Mr Lineker, arguing that he is “not a news reporter”. He added that the remarks were “clearly incendiary” but that his opinions “should not matter to the BBC’s news output”.
Mr Lineker confirmed that he will be presenting Match Of The Day on Saturday as usual, in spite of the criticism he has received. He tweeted: “Well, it’s been an interesting couple of days. Happy that this ridiculously out-of-proportion story seems to be abating and very much looking forward to presenting @BBCMOTD on Saturday. Thanks again for all your incredible support. It’s been overwhelming.”
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